Canadair CL-415


I-DPCN at work 03 (cropped).jpg
Role Amphibious water bomber
Manufacturer Canadair
Bombardier Aerospace
First flight 6 December 1993
Introduction 1994
Status Active service
Primary users Vigili del Fuoco (Italy)
Sécurité Civile
Hellenic Air Force (Greece)
Quebec Service aérien gouvernemental
Produced 1993–2015
Number built 95[1]
Developed from Canadair CL-215

The Canadair CL-415 (Superscooper, later Bombardier 415) is an amphibious aircraft built originally by Canadair and subsequently by Bombardier and Viking Aircraft. It is based on the Canadair CL-215 and is designed specifically for aerial firefighting; it can perform various other roles, such as the search and rescue and utility transport.

Development of the CL-415 commenced in the early 1990s, shortly after the success of the CL-215T retrofit programme had proven a viable demand for a turboprop-powered model of the original CL-215. Entering production in 2003, in addition to its new engines, the aircraft featured numerous modernisation efforts and advances over the CL-215, particularly in terms of its cockpit and aerodynamics, to yield improved performance. By the time the programme's production phase had commenced, it was owned by Bombardier, who continued production up until 2015. During October 2016, the CL-415 programme was acquired by Viking Aircraft; this company has produced a further modernised model of the aircraft, designated as the CL-515 or the Viking Canadair 515 First Responder.[2]



Introduced during 1966, the CL-215 was the first aircraft specifically designed to be a water bomber.[3] A total of 125 aircraft were constructed prior to the final CL-215 being delivered during May 1990.[4]

During 1987, in response to prevailing market trends towards more efficient, powerful and reliable turboprop powerplants, Canadair undertook the task of retrofitting 17 CL-215 airframes with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF engines. This engine provided a 15 percent power increase over the original piston engines, as well as enhanced reliability and safety. The retrofitted aircraft were designated CL-215T.[5] Speaking during the new model's development, company officials recognised that market demand for the CL-215T was marginal, and thus not enough to justify developing an all-new aircraft.[5] Despite this, it featured numerous enhancements, including the addition of powered flight controls, air conditioning in the cockpit, as well as various upgraded electrical and avionics systems. The most notable external features of the CL-215T retrofit were the aerodynamic additions to the wings and empennage.[4]

Having conducted the relatively successful CL-215T programme, the company decided to develop a further improved model of the aircraft CL-415, which would take form as a new-build production series. On 6 December 1993, the CL-415 conducted its maiden flight, while the first deliveries commenced during November 1994.[6] One year later, a 180-day sales tour traversing 21 countries commenced using a CL-415 owned by the Quebec Government.[7] That same year, Bombardier stated that it was in the planning phase of a six-point improvement plan for the CL-415, which was principally intended to diversify its capabilities.[8][9]

Orders for the type were promptly received from several countries, which included several lease and purchase arrangements; by July 1996, 37 examples were reportedly in service with operators in Canada, France, Italy, and Spain.[10] Starting in 1998, the CL-415 was being assembled at Bombardier Aerospace's facility near North Bay/Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, Ontario, and tested on Lake Nipissing.[11] During the 2010s, according to aerospace periodical Flight International, there was a downturn in sales of the type. A total of ninety-five CL-415s had been completed when Bombardier closed down the production line in October 2015, although the company continued to actively market the type as well as to provide support for the existing fleet beyond this date.[12]

Viking era

For several decades, Bombardier had experienced a period of significant expansion until encountering financial hardship during the 2010s, largely brought on by the very high costs involved in developing the CSeries narrow-body airliner.[13][14] The much smaller Viking Aircraft started off as a component manufacturing specialist, which came to include the licensed production of parts of several of Bombardier's discontinued aircraft range, helping operators to keep them in service.[15][16] During 2008, Bombardier and Viking Air reached an arrangement under which the former sold the design documents and all intellectual property rights of all out-of-production de Havilland aircraft from the DHC-1 Chipmunk through the DASH-7 50 passenger STOL regional airliner to Viking.[17][18] Its unit cost in 2014 was C$36.9 million.[19]

On 20 June 2016, it was announced that Viking Air was in the process of purchasing the CL-415 type certificate from Bombardier, along with the older CL-215 and CL-215T models.[20][21][22] The acquisition was finalised on 3 October 2016.[23] Shortly following the acquisition, Viking began work on the design of a modernised version of the aircraft, which became referred to as the CL-515.[16][24] The completed aircraft is referred to as the Viking Canadair 515 First Responder.[2]

During December 2018, a full-flight CL-415 simulator, capable of simulating water scoop and bombing operations, received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. Prior to this, pilot training had typically involved live flying of the aircraft.[25]


A Spanish Air Force CL-415, showing its 4 underbelly doors opened.
Italian Vigili del Fuoco refilling near Alghero, spilling excess water through underwing overflow ports

The CL-415 has an updated cockpit, aerodynamics enhancements and changes to the water-release system as well, creating a modern firefighting amphibious flying boat for use in detecting and suppressing forest fires. Compared to the CL-215, the CL-415 has increased operating weight and speed, yielding improved productivity and performance. Due to the increased power of its pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprop engines, each capable of generating up to 1,775kw of thrust, these are located closer to the fuselage in comparison to the CL-215's arrangement.[4] While this repositioning would typically reduce lateral stability on its own, this is rectified via the addition of an inverted fixed leading edge slat forward of the righthand horizontal stabiliser. Furthermore, winglets have been adopted on this model for the purpose of improving directional stability.[4]

The CL-415 can scoop up to 6,140 l (1,350 imp gal; 1,620 US gal) of water from a nearby water source, mix it with a chemical foam if desired, and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks.[4] The CL-415 was specifically developed to provide the capability to deliver large quantities of suppressant in quick response to fires. This is stored within large tanks which are located mostly beneath the cabin floor within the hull, although a header tank above this level is present on either side of the fuselage.[4] The airframe is built for reliability and longevity, making extensive use of corrosion-resistant materials, predominantly treated aluminium, that facilitates its use in salt water. According to Flight International, the CL-415 has good handling on the water, being relatively easy to operate in comparison with several other amphibious aircraft.[4] The CL-515 can hold up to 7,000 litres (1,850 US gallons), and has a refill time of 14 seconds.[2]

The aircraft requires 1,340 m (4,400 ft) of flyable length to descend from 15 m (49 ft) altitude, scoop 6,137 l (1,350 imp gal; 1,621 US gal) of water during a twelve-second 410-metre-long (1,350 ft) run on the water at 70 knots (130 km/h; 81 mph), then climb back to 15 m (49 ft) altitude. The aircraft can also pick up partial loads in smaller areas, and can turn while scooping if necessary.[26] Management of the water bombing system is centralised via a water status panel on the flight instrumentation, giving direct control to the pilots; various dispersal patterns and sequences can be selected. A manually-operated emergency dump lever is also present, bypassing this system.[4] Bombardier have claimed that the type performs 6.9 water drops for every flight hours of the type.[4] The CL-415GR variant features higher operating weights, while the CL-415 multi-role model is available for purposes in a paramilitary search and rescue role and utility transport.

Operational history

World operators of the CL-415

Derived from its predecessor's nickname, the aircraft has acquired the name "Super Scooper" in light of its greatly enhanced performance as a water bomber and fire suppresser. In recognition of its abilities, the aircraft was awarded in 2006 the Batefuegos de oro (gold fire extinguisher) by the Asociacion para la Promocion de Actividades Socioculturales (APAS) in Spain; the award citation in part read "This is the most efficient tool for the aerial combat of forest fires, key to the organization of firefighting in a large number of countries. The continuous improvements to meet the needs of forest firefighting have made these aircraft the aerial means most in demand over more than 30 years."[27]

By 1999, a total of 51 orders had been secured for the type; operators have reportedly predominantly used the CL-415 for firefighting and maritime search and rescue purposes.[28] Of the 95 built, seven had reportedly been removed from service as a result of several accidents by December 2007.[29]


The original model, 86 built.
Maritime patrol version, three built.[30]
Improved version for the Hellenic Air Force, capable of higher operating weights.[28] Six built.
Enhanced Aerial Firefighter.[31] In 2019, six CL-415EAF Superscooper aircraft were ordered by launch customer, Bridger Aerospace, due for delivery in April 2020.[32]
Updated multirole version of the CL-415 under development by Viking Air of British Columbia.[16] On 21 June 2019, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense announced it was purchasing six CL-515s for delivery in 2024.[33][34]


Croatian Air Force CL-415 right before refilling in Živogošće
Two Hellenic Air Force CL-415 refilling off the coast of Atlit to fight the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire
French Sécurité Civile CL-415 dropping water

In 2016/2019, there were 164 in-service CL-215 and CL-415s in 11 countries.[35]

CL-215(T)/415 in service as of mid-2016
Country Fleet[36] Operators
Canada 64 2019 figures, all others 2016. Air Spray, Buffalo Airways, Conair Group, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Service aérien gouvernemental (Quebec), Longview Aviation Asset Management Corp., Longview Aviation Services Inc., Province of Manitoba, Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario), Ministry of Environment (Saskatchewan)
Croatia 6 Croatian Air Force / Croatian Fire Brigade 885th Firefighting Squadron, 6 CL-415, 2 CL-515 in order
France 12 Sécurité Civile
Greece 18 Hellenic Air Force, 7 CL415, 11 CL215, 8 CL515 on order
Italy 19 Vigili del Fuoco[37]
South Korea 1
Malaysia 2 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (firefighting)[38]
Morocco 8 Royal Moroccan Air Force, 5 CL-415, 3 CL-515 in order
Spain 21 Spanish Air Force, 43rd Group of the Air Force
Turkey 9
United States 4 Los Angeles County FD, San Diego County, United States Forest Service
Undisclosed 3
Total 164


Out of the 95 CL-415s built, 11 have been destroyed in the following accidents:

  • 11 November 1997 – s/n 2025 – F-ZBFQ/Pelican 43 – Securité Civile France, near La Ciotat (France).
  • 16 August 2003 – s/n 2008 – I-DPCN – SOREM Italy, near Valcavena (Italy).
  • 8 March 2004 – s/n 2018 – F-ZBEZ/Pelican 41 – Securité Civile France, at Sainte Croix Lake (France).
  • 18 March 2005 – s/n 2051 – I-DPCK – SOREM Italy, near Seravezza (Italy).
  • 1 August 2005 – s/n 2011 – F-ZBEO/Pelican 36 – Securité Civile France, near Pietra Magiiore (Corsica).
  • 25 April 2006 – s/n 2039 – Hellenic Air Force.
  • 23 July 2007 – s/n 2055 (CL-415MP) – Hellenic Air Force, near Styra (Greece).
  • 23 July 2007 – s/n 2045 – I-DPCX – SOREM Italy, near Roccapreturo (Italy).
  • 24 August 2009 – s/n 2049 – Hellenic Air Force.
  • 3 July 2013 – s/n 2076 – C-FIZU – Canada, at Moosehead Lake (Canada).
  • 5 May 2014 – s/n 2050 – Hellenic Air Force.

Specifications (CL-415)

Three-view diagram

Data from Viking[39]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 6,137 l (1,350 imp gal; 1,621 US gal) (waterbombing), up to 18 paratroops, up to 2,903 kg (6,400 lb) of cargo
  • Length: 20.4 m (66 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.38 m (93.11 ft)
  • Height: 9.01 m (29.55 ft)
  • Wing area: 100 m2 (1,080 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio: 8.03
  • Empty weight: 13,608 kg (30,000 lb)
  • Gross weight: 21,319 kg (47,000 lb) Maximum After-scooping Weight
  • Max takeoff weight: 19,890 kg (43,850 lb) Firefighting, Land
  • Fuel capacity: 4,650 kg (10,250 lb)
  • Cabin volume: 35.6 m3 (1,260 cu ft)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123AF turboprop, 1,775 kW (2,380 hp) each ISA+20 °C Flat rated
  • Propellers: 4-bladed Hamilton Sunstrand 14SF-19, 3.97 m (13 ft 0 in) diameter Fully reversible, feathering blades


  • Maximum speed: 359 km/h (223 mph, 194 kn) Max Cruise
  • Cruise speed: 333 km/h (207 mph, 180 kn) Normal Cruise
  • Stall speed: 126 km/h (78 mph, 68 kn) MLW, Landing Configuration
  • Ferry range: 2,427 km (1,508 mi, 1,310 nmi) 278 km/h (150 kn) Long Range Cruise
  • Endurance: 3 hours at 200 nmi (370 km) from base
  • g limits: +3.25−1.0 g
  • Rate of climb: 5.9 m/s (1,170 ft/min) (ISA, MTOW)
  • Wing loading: 212.5 kg/m2 (43.52 lb/sq ft) Maximum After-scooping
  • Takeoff (ISA): 783 m (2,569 ft) (land), 814 m (2,671 ft) (water)
  • Landing (ISA): 674 m (2,211 ft) (land), 665 m (2,182 ft) (water)


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ "Amphibious aircraft – Status report – Bombardier". Archived from the original on 8 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Viking Canadair 515". Viking Air Ltd. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Canadair CL-215." Flight International, 21 November 1968. p. 871.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gerzanics, Mike (21 August 2009). "FLIGHT TEST: Bombardier 415 – The superscooper". Flight International.
  5. ^ a b Goold, Ian CL-215 "Water Jet". Flight International, 31 December 1988. p. 23.
  6. ^ "Bombardier 415". Retrieved 13 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "CL-415 launched on 180-day world tour". Flight International. 8 November 1995.
  8. ^ Warwick, Graham (20 September 1995). "Canadair prepares CL-415 upgrades". Flight International.
  9. ^ "Bombardier plans improved CL-415". Flight International. 28 February 1996.
  10. ^ "CL-215 leases". Flight International. 3 July 1996.
  11. ^ "CN-415 assembly". Flight International. 27 May 1998.
  12. ^ Trimble, Stephen (15 October 2015). "Bombardier to close CL-415 completion center". Flight International.
  13. ^ "Bombardier "Couldn't Afford" CSeries Alone, Admits CEO Alain Bellemare". Radio Canada. 20 February 2020.
  14. ^ Jens Flottau, Graham Warwick and Guy Norris (27 October 2017). "Airbus/Bombardier C Series Deal Has Broad Implications". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
  15. ^ "Nils Christensen". Helicopters Magazine. 25 September 2008.
  16. ^ a b c Thatcher, Chris (22 August 2018). "Viking Air contemplates new CL-515 waterbomber variant". Skies magazine.
  17. ^ "Viking Air acquires assets of Bombardier". Wings Magazine. 5 May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  18. ^ Viking Air Limited (23 February 2006). "Viking Acquires Type Certificates for de Havilland Canada Heritage Aircraft from Bombardier" (Press release).
  19. ^ "Bombardier Announces Order for Amphibious Aircraft" (Press release). Bombardier. 26 March 2014.
  20. ^ "Viking Air to buy type certificates for Bombardier amphibians". Flight International. 21 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Bombardier Announces a Definitive Agreement for the Sale of its Amphibious Aircraft Program to Viking Air Limited" (Press release). Bombardier. 20 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Viking Air Limited Acquires Worldwide CL-415 Waterbomber Program from Bombardier" (Press release). Viking Air. 20 June 2016. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Viking completes acquisition of Bombardier's amphibious aircraft programme". Flight Global. 3 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Viking expects CL-515 launch decision in early 2019". Flight Global. 31 October 2018.
  25. ^ "TRU Simulation provides CL-415 FFS training". Civil Aviation Training. 12 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Firefighting Techniques and Technologies: Water scooping". Bombardier. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  27. ^ "Bombardier 415 SuperScooper Amphibious Aircraft". 5 March 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Greek order marks launch of Canadair 415GR". Flight International. 13 January 1999.
  29. ^ "Canadair CL-415." Archived 5 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 29 July 2011.
  30. ^ "CL-415 MP Aircraft | Viking's Aerial Firefighter". Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  31. ^ "CL-415EAF Enhanced Aerial Firefighter | Longview Aviation Services".
  32. ^ "Longview's CL-415EAF Enhanced Aerial Firefighter makes inaugural flight". Skies Mag. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  33. ^ "Viking to deliver six aircraft to the Republic of Indonesia's Ministry of Defence". Airmed & Rescue. 21 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Indonesia to receive world's first CL-515 in seven aircraft deal with Longview". Wings magazine. 24 June 2019.
  35. ^ Amy Laboda (12 October 2018). "Viking Air Preps for Fire Season, Updates Water Scooper Line". AIN online.
  36. ^ "In Service Aircraft". Viking.
  37. ^ "Canadair –".
  38. ^ "MMEA uses 198,000 litres of water to fight forest fire in Miri". Bernama. The Malay Mail. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  39. ^ "Firefighting > Specifications". Viking.

Further reading

  • Pickler, Ron and Larry Milberry. Canadair: The First 50 Years. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1995. ISBN 0-921022-07-7.
  • Keijsper, Gerard. "Water-Bombers Required!" Air Forces Monthly, London: Key Publishing, July 2008 Issue.
  • Belmonte de Gálvez, Manuel (18 December 2018). En pasada. De aviones, almas y llamas. Amazinante Ediciones. p. maint: date and year (link)
  • Marsaly, Frederic and Samuel Pretat. "Bombardiers d'eau/ Canadair Scoopers." Editions Minimonde76, May 2012, ISBN 978-2-95418-180-6.

External links

  • The Canadair CL-215 & 415
  • Bombardier's homepage of the SuperScooper